What is a Sitemap and How to Find the Sitemap of a Website?

Staff Writer
Last Updated
May 15, 2024
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A common goal in search engine optimization (SEO) is to have your website appear on the first page of search engine results pages (SERP). Not only does this boost the visibility and engagement of your page, but it also leaves a much stronger impression on users and increases the chances that they’ll remember your brand. However, to do this, it’s crucial that your website is properly understood by search engines, and sitemaps can help with that!

What is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages of your site. It helps search engines like Google crawl and index your website more efficiently and accurately.

Having a sitemap is an important part of your SEO.

Two Types of Sitemaps

XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are written specifically for search engine crawlers and are the preferred format for these algorithms. XML sitemaps carry three kinds of information about your website:

  • URLs: A list of all the links to be indexed
  • lastmod attribute: The timestamps of the last time the links were last updated
  • hreflang attribute: The local variants of the links

Basically, XML sitemaps contain all the relevant pages of your website and allow search engines to index your content more easily.

HTML Sitemaps

Image from Semrush

HTML sitemaps are created more for the benefit and convenience of the users of a website. These sitemaps help users better navigate a website by displaying all of the pages and links that can be visited, often in a hierarchical manner.

While not as beneficial in terms of your website’s ranking on SERP as XML sitemaps, HTML sitemaps can still help search engine algorithms and programs navigate your website, which can still help your site’s performance on SERP. They also help users have a more positive experience on your site by helping them move through different pages on your site more easily.

Why are Sitemaps Important?

There are many benefits to creating and uploading a high quality sitemap to your website. Here are some that you can look forward to:

  • Sitemaps act as a map that search engines can use to navigate your site more easily, efficiently, and accurately, improving your chances of a higher ranking on SERP.
  • HTML sitemaps help users not only navigate to familiar pages but also discover new ones that they may have missed otherwise.
  • Sitemaps can also help you identify any errors that you may have overlooked, such as broken links, duplicated pages, or missing pages
  • Sitemaps can inform search engine algorithms and crawlers that you’ve made recent changes to your content and ensure that your site is accurately represented in SERP.
  • Sitemaps let you highlight the content and pages that you believe are more important and ensure that they receive more visibility in search engine results.

Does Your Website Need a Sitemap?

According to Google, the websites that may need sitemaps are the following:

  • Large Websites: When a website is much larger and composed of many more pages and links, it can be difficult for crawlers to ensure that all of them have been visited, especially since there’s no guarantee that all of these pages will be linked to another page at least once. This can result in some pages not being discovered by Google, but a sitemap can help ensure that the entirety of your website is being indexed.
  • New Websites: If you’ve just started your website, chances are that there aren’t that many external links that lead to it. This becomes an issue when you realize that web crawlers go through websites by following links from one page that lead to another. If no site is linking to your page, then it may not be discovered.
  • Websites with Media Content: While it’s normal for websites to upload media content to deliver a more engaging experience, Google’s crawlers may have a difficult time properly understanding them. A sitemap can help with this as they can also be used to provide information about different types of content like videos, images, and news entries.

How to Find the Sitemap of a Website

There are many different ways that you can use to find the sitemap of a website:

Manual Checking

The easiest way to find a website’s sitemap is by entering the website’s URL into your browser and adding the sitemap’s location at the end. There are a few different variations that you can try out:

  • /sitemap.xml
  • /sitemap_index.xml
  • /sitemap.txt
  • /sitemap/
  • /sitemap/sitemap.xml
  • /sitemapindex.xml
  • /sitemap1.xml


Image from woorank

The robots.txt file contains various instructions and directives that tell search engine bots how the website should be crawled or indexed, such as which areas should be included and excluded in the process. This text file will also contain a link to the website’s sitemap, as the sitemap helps crawlers go through the indexing process more efficiently.

To find a website’s robots.txt file, all you need to do is add /robots.txt at the end of the website’s URL link.

Google Search Console

Image from Reliablesoft

If you’re looking for the sitemap of a website that you own, then you can do this with the help of Google Search Console. After logging in, select the Sitemaps option from the menu at the left of the screen. You’ll be brought to a page that contains all the sitemaps that have been submitted for your website, whether or not you were the one who uploaded them, along with other additional information regarding each submission.

Google Search Commands

There are many different search operators that you can use to achieve different SEO goals, including finding the sitemaps of various websites. Here are some commands that can be useful:

  • filetype: This command allows you to specify what file type or format you’re looking for, which can drastically narrow down your search. To look for an XML sitemap, you can input filetype: xml or filetype: txt.
  • site: This command tells Google that you’re only looking at a specific website for your search. Just enter site: yourwebsite.com into the search bar.
  • inurl: If you’re noticing that some irrelevant search results are popping up after using the previous commands, then you can filter these out by including inurl: sitemap, which will only show results that include sitemap in the link.

You can think of sitemaps as virtual maps that help both users and search engines move through your website and its various content and pages. There are many reasons why sitemaps can be beneficial to the performance of your website, especially if your goal is to land a favorable position on SERP.

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